Mary Gauthier's Jalapeno Cornbread

Mary Gauthier talks about growing up in Louisiana, learning to cook, and family holidays in this episode of Biscuits & Jam.

Mary Gauthier
Photo: Laura Partain

In this week's episode host Sid Evans, Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living Magazine, talks to singer/songwriter Mary Gauthier about bringing Louisiana cooking to Boston, memories of the late John Prine, and the best Italian cookies.

Gauthier is a Grammy-nominated songwriter who spent the early part of her career as a chef and restaurant owner, so she's no stranger to the kitchen. In this episode of Biscuits & Jam, Mary tells us that keeping things simple usually works best for cooking and songwriting. "You can do a complex souffle if you want, but man, people are just gonna love it if you fry okra. Put a little salt and pepper in the batter, drip it in grease. Sit it in front of them. They're going to love it. It's a really, uh, beautiful lesson. Be yourself in your songs. Don't put on airs." All this and more on this episode of Biscuits & Jam.

Episode 5: June 30, 2020

Get to Know Mary Gauthier

For Mary Gauthier, music and food have been lifelong passions. A native of Louisiana, she opened a successful creole restaurant in Boston that often had lines out the door. She later sold her share of that business and used the funds to make an album named after that restaurant, Dixie Kitchen. And despite not getting into the music industry until she was 35, she quickly built a reputation as one of Nashville's most talented songwriters, with names like Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, and Jimmy Buffett all covering her work.

Now living in Nashville, Mary's latest album Rifles and Rosary Beads was co-written with wounded veterans. It speaks directly to the challenges and fears that soldiers and their families have faced. Like so many of Mary's songs, it's unflinchingly honest.

What Mary Gauthier Talks About in this Episode

  • Growing up in Louisiana
  • Learning how to cook
  • Her memories of the late John Prime
  • The best Italian cookies
  • Keeping things simple
  • Family holidays

Quotes From Mary Gauthier

Mary Gauthier, On Growing Up in Louisiana

I was born in New Orleans, raised down in Baton Rouge and Thibodaux, Lousiana. I was adopted into an Italian family, actually. And my last name is quite complicated. My adoptive Italian father got the name froma man he never met. He never met his dad. Mr. Gauthier is a mystery to all of us. It's a long story, which I've made records about. It's been quite the journey for me. The reason I ended up in music actually is because of this quest for identity and meaning. The Lousiana heritage is a part of who I am but carry it lightly. I don't really know where I'm truly from.

—Mary Gauthier, On Growing Up in Louisiana

Mary Gauthier

I wish that I had cooked more with my grandmother, who died when I was 14. She would bake cookies and cookies and cookies. We had so many Italian cookies, dozens of Italian cookies, and breads. She had 12 brothers and sisters and we'd have this giant feast of St. Joseph. I just wish I'd cooked more with her because thos Italian cookies were incredible. I didn't really learn how to cook until I went to chef school in Cambridge, Massachussets, at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts.

—Mary Gauthier

Mary Gauthier, On the Holidays

There was always a lot of food. We were weaving Italian heritage into the culture of south Lousiana, which was predominately French and African. We'd have oyster dressing, fried okra, stewed okra, turkey, and dressing, sweet potato pie, pumpkin pie, bread pudding with bourbon sauce. The cocktails were endless.

—Mary Gauthier, On the Holidays

About Biscuits & Jam

In the South, talking about food is personal. It's a way of sharing your history, your family, your culture, and yourself. Each week Sid Evans, editor in chief of Southern Living, sits down with celebrity musicians to hear stories of how they grew up, what inspired them, and how they've been shaped by Southern culture. Sid takes us back to some of their most cherished memories and traditions, the family meals they still think about, and their favorite places to eat on the road.

Listen to the full episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, and Stitcher.

Get a transcript of the full interview with Mary Gauthier.

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